What Is Depression?

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Most of us feel sad and unhappy from time to time, and that’s quite normal. We react to the challenges and problems that life gives us differently. Sometimes, though, the feeling of sadness can last really long, even if you have already overcome all the challenges and solved all the problems. So, what’s wrong with you? Are you depressed? What is it all about?

What Is Depression?

While simple mood swings are not something you should worry about, depression is. It is a serious mental disorder, which affects a surprisingly big number of people (more women than men, though). Symptoms of depression include:

  • sadness and depressed mood;
  • changes in sleep;
  • low appetite;
  • loss of energy and interest;
  • inability to concentrate and be productive;
  • suicidal thoughts.

It’s important to note that these signs can signal other mental disorders or medical conditions. Also, they can be viewed as signs of depression only if lasted for a comparatively long period of time (at least a couple of weeks).

If you think you have some of these symptoms and it does bother you, the first thing you can do is take a depression test online. Although all of them are different, these tests are designed to help you identify the symptoms and understand if your condition is serious enough to start looking for qualified help.

Types of Depression

Depression is a collective term for a number of different mental conditions that are quite similar but still have their own peculiarities. Here are the most known of them:

  • Major depression

This is a type of depression we all know about. It is distinguished by all the symptoms listed above, and its episodes last for a considerable period of time. There are a large number of drugs to cure this condition; they are called antidepressants. Also, visiting a psychotherapist and discussing the feelings and problems connected with them is another treatment option.

  • Postpartum and premenstrual disorder

These two occur in women only. After childbirth, many moms feel sad to some extent, but a few of them may also feel hopeless, weary, and lonely. A feeling of having no connection with a child is one of the most serious signs of postpartum depression, which can affect a woman during the first year as the baby is born.

The premenstrual disorder is more severe than PMS, although symptoms are very similar – increased irritability, fatigue, anxious feelings, etc. It happens once in a month, at the end of a menstrual cycle.

Both of these conditions can greatly affect a woman’s behavior and moods, but they both are quite treatable – with the help of a combination of medications and talk therapy.

  • Psychotic

This type of depression combines typical signs of major depression with different psychic symptoms, for example, delusions, paranoid ideas, or hallucinations. This is a severe condition, which shouldn’t be ignored. Antidepressants alone, especially if not prescribed by a doctor but chosen by a patient him- or herself, don’t work here. One needs to take antipsychotic drugs to deal with this condition.

What Is Depression?

  • SAD

Known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or simply SAD, this is a light form of the depressive disorder that comes and goes with the change of the season. In fact, it is not because of the change of the season but because of the change in the amount of sunlight. When days get shorter and colder, many people start feeling depressed, gaining weight, and losing their interest in activities they used to enjoy. But when the sun starts shining brightly again in the spring, people feel better, and depression goes away.

  • Atypical

This must be the most common type, and some people may find themselves living with it for years. Although sadness and feeling down typical of major depression are signs of this mental disorder too, they go away from time to time when something positive happens. Besides, people with this condition are too sensitive towards criticism, feel heaviness in their limbs, have higher appetite levels than usual, and constantly feel a lack of sleep.

  • Manic Depression

Also known as bipolar disorder, this mental condition is distinguished by two periods changing each other – mania (when you feel excited, energetic, almost ready to conquer the world) and depression (when you feel sad, unconfident, ready to commit suicide). The frequency of such mood changes is different in different people, ranging from a few swings a year to weekly swings.

  • Situational depression

This type of depression hits many people when important events somehow change their life. Although it goes away by itself in most cases (that is, no treatment is needed), there are some cases when it grows into a major depression. So, it’s always better to get a professional consultation.

Depression is a persistent condition, and one of the easiest ways to go out of it without anyone’s help is to break this persistence by changing your life. Try to find strengths to build new healthy habits in sleeping, eating, working, etc. Also, a major change of surroundings may help – take a vacation and visit another city or move to a new place.

References:

  • Nesse, Randolph M. “Is depression an adaptation?.” Archives of general psychiatry 57.1 (2000): 14-20.
  • Jorm, Anthony Francis. “Is depression a risk factor for dementia or cognitive decline?.” Gerontology 46.4 (2000): 219-227.
  • Raison, Charles L., and Andrew H. Miller. “Is depression an inflammatory disorder?.” Current psychiatry reports 13.6 (2011): 467-475.

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